Fort McCoy News June 13, 2014

McCoy threatened, endangered species list updated

BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Wisconsin's Threatened and Endangered Species List was recently updated. Included in that update were eight changes to listed species that occur on Fort McCoy.

Photo 1 for endangered species article
The Blanding's turtle is one of five species to be delisted on the
installation. The turtle remains a federal species of concern, and
could be added to the federal list of threatened and endangered
species in the future.
File photo

According to Tim Wilder, Fort McCoy Endangered Species biologist, five species that occur on post were delisted. They include the Blanding's turtle, Creamy Gentian (a plant), Snowy (White) Campion (plant), Bog Bluegrass (plant), and the Bewick's Wren (bird). Species added to the list were the Upland Sandpiper (bird), Black Tern (bird) and the Ottoe Skipper Butterfly.

Wilder explained the impact of the list changes to Fort McCoy.

"We do not foresee any impacts to the day-to-day military training from these changes," said Wilder, who works at the Directorate of Public Works Natural Resources Branch (NRB). "The greatest potential for impacts to Fort McCoy result when state-listed species are considered within the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) review process for construction projects."

The Blanding's turtle and Bog Bluegrass remain federal species of concern that could be added to the federal list of threatened and endangered species in the future, Wilder noted. The Blanding's turtle will still be classified as a state protected species.

In the newly listed species, both the Upland Sandpiper and Ottoe Skipper inhabit prairie- and savanna-type habitat on Fort McCoy, such as the Badger Drop Zone, Barrens Natural Area and some training areas.

"Fort McCoy has the largest-known remaining population of the Ottoe Skipper left in the state," Wilder said. "We anticipate the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) will look hard at any construction project that may impact this species.

Surveys to gather additional information on the distribution and relative abundance of the Ottoe Skipper will continue this summer."

Photo 2 for endangered species article
The Ottoe Skipper Butterfly, an addition to the 2014 Fort McCoy
endangered species list, is pictured in a Fort McCoy training area.

Photo by Nate Tucker

Much of Fort McCoy's 60,000 acres is naturally well-suited for wildlife habitat. The maneuver area is divided into 82 training areas totaling 45,648 acres. Harvest and biological data are collected regularly to monitor wildlife populations and wildlife health.

Wilder said Fort McCoy works with the WDNR and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to execute the installation's Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan.

"In that plan, we spell out what we will do in regard to state-listed species occurring on the installation," Wilder said.

Among the efforts to care for the varied species is conducting surveys of places on Fort McCoy where the species occur.

Surveys are conducted for state-listed species when current survey data are insufficient. Also, species that are on the federal endangered or threatened list as well and state list receive priority for surveys.

"Going out, conducting surveys and compiling data are just a few examples of the work we do with our agency partners," Wilder said. "In the NRB, as a whole, we all work together to ensure we take great care of the natural resources at Fort McCoy."

According to the WDNR, the state's Threatened and Endangered Species List has been revised 11 times since 1972 — the most-recent update taking place in January.

The WDNR's Natural Heritage Conservation Program policy recommends that the list be reviewed every five years or earlier, as needed, based on changes in species population conditions.

For more information about Wisconsin's Threatened and Endangered Species List, visit
http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/EndangeredResources/ETList.html.

(Information courtesy of the Directorate of Public Works Natural Resources Branch.)